1980s movie remakes: 10 of the most ridiculous
From The A-Team to Top Gun, 10 upcoming 1980s movie remakes and how ridiculous they're likely to be.
The next two years or so will see an unrelenting barrage of movie remakes and belated sequels, almost all of them mined from that anti-golden age of cinema, the 1980s.
It seems to be a symptom of the credit crunch: a sort of security blanket for studio execs in their late 30s with a nervous eye on the bottom line. The recent success of the dreadful Transformers movies, among other things, have suggested that there is money to be made from shameless nostalgia-exploitation, no matter how ridiculous. And some of them will be very ridiculous indeed.
But which are likely to be the worst offenders? We take a look at 10 of them.
Irish release date: 30 July 2010
Four special-forces operatives jailed for a crime they did not commit, etc, etc. Technically not a remake - astonishingly, a spin-off movie of the original series was never made - but close enough for our purposes.
Ridiculousness potential: Middling. The casting of Liam Neeson as Hannibal should fill fans of the original with trepidation: he's a Serious Actor, not a cigar-chomping walking grin like George Peppard, and will probably want to show us the character's inner angst or somesuch. But if it sticks to explosions and building improbable super-weapons out of discarded auto parts, it could be good fun. Besides, in the cold light of history and whatever post-ironic 20- and 30-somethings might tell you, the series really wasn't very good, so if the film's not very good either then no harm done.
Irish release date: 2012
Venkman, Stantz and Spengler - and Dana Barrett - are back, and getting on a bit, in this seriously tardy sequel, scheduled for release a mere 23 years after Ghostbusters II, seemingly undeterred by the horrors of Die Hard 4.0 and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Ridiculousness potential: Enormous. The original Ghostbusters films dragged their way through the somewhat daft plots on the sheer strength of Bill Murray's (and to a lesser extend Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis's) charisma. Murray's still got charm - see his lovely cameo in last year's Zombieland - but surely he can't cut it as an action lead any more? It's not impossible that it'll be done well, but the omens aren't good; Indiana Jones and John McClain both suffered in their reboots. Plus it is expected to feature the bantamweight Eliza Dushku. And, of course, with so much computing power at the director's fingertips nowadays, it could turn into a soulless special-effects blockbuster. Which it emphatically should not be.
Irish release date: not known
Not content with a mere six sequels, New Line Cinema is going to squeeze a few more drops of money-milk out of the £158m Police Academy cash cow. "It'll be anything but another movie with a numeral next to it", promises producer Paul Maslansky. We're hoping it'll be a mime act.
Ridiculousness potential: Low. As has been pointed out by one of our readers, it's hard to get too excited about a remake of a film that was remade every year for a decade. And they're bringing in a whole new set of idiotic recruits, so we won't have to watch a superannuated Tackleberry using his assault rifle as a walking stick.
The NeverEnding Story
Irish release date: not known
Warner Bros announced last year that they would be remaking the 1984 favourite ("with a modern spin", as The Hollywood Reporter says, chillingly). There have been rumours of Leonardo DiCaprio's involvement, great news for fans of insipid cardboard-flavoured leading men everywhere.
Ridiculousness potential: High. Not least because a remake of a story that claimed never to end in the first place leads to logical difficulties. (Not as bad as Final Fantasy XII, but still.) Also, in the wake of Harry Potter and the Twilight series, children's fantasy is suddenly hot property, which could lead to the gentle, whimsical original being shoehorned to fit their template.
Irish release date: 26 December 2010
Baffling bike-racing-in-cyberspace nonsense which hinges on a computer programmer being "digitised" with a big laser or something is rebooted (appropriately enough) as baffling bike-racing-in-cyberspace nonsense with better graphics.
Ridiculousness potential: Huge. In 1982, the word "cyberspace" was freighted with possibility, thrill and danger, and it was possible to believe that being a web hacker would involve driving around a 3D virtual world on a magic light-cycle fighting artificially intelligent security software. In 2010, the word "cyberspace" is as dangerous and thrilling as the word "Willesden", and we know that most of it involves supermarket home delivery services and pornography. We also now know that hackers are not digital daredevils but overweight, bearded men in Red Dwarf T-shirts who, in between battles on World of Warcraft, find time to trick your Hotmail account into firing out spam. None of this lends itself to an exciting cinema experience.
Irish release date: 2011
Early breakthrough film for the future Governor of California which set the tone for his future work - gay-friendly oiled muscles, strangled accent and a tendency to be out-acted by his own loincloth - remade with the dreadlocked Jason Momoa in the Schwarzenegger role.
Ridiculousness potential: Low. It would take something special to make this more ridiculous than its toweringly ridiculous origins. That said, we're not ruling it out.
Irish release date: 16 July 2010
Will Smith's son Jaden Smith will play the lead in this remake of the chopstick-wielding 1984 kung-fu-lite movie. Except he'll be Dre-san instead of Daniel-san, Mr Miyage is replaced by Jackie Chan, and the whole thing has upped sticks to China for some reason.
Ridiculousness potential: High, despite the original being pretty embarrassing all on its own, not least because Will Smith is going to direct. Young Jaden better be able to kick people at least as convincingly as his predecessor or the cries of "nepotism" will be deafening.
National Lampoon's Vacation
Irish release date: not known
Still little more than a rumour, but apparently it will feature Rusty Griswold, the son of Chevy Chase's character Clark from the original. It may also be directed by David Dobkin, who was behind Wedding Crashers, which was not a dreadful film.
Ridiculousness potential: Impossible to judge. The National Lampoon films are much-loved but slightly overrated, and a strong lead actor (rumours suggest Vince Vaughn or Paul Rudd) could keep it entertaining.
Clash of the Titans
UK release date: 2 April 2010
He's a god, but he's also a mortal, and he has to battle a Kraken and stop evil creatures flooding out of the Underworld while trying not to get on his father Zeus's wick too badly. A mega-budget, all-star-cast 3D version of the 1981 Ray Harryhausen stop-motion fantasy.
Ridiculousness potential: Well, not potential since it's already out, but negligible anyway. A daft special-effects-led original remade three decades later, equally daft but with better special effects. It's hardly cultural vandalism. What on earth Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes are doing there is not clear though.
UK release date: unknown
Another rumour, we're afraid, and one that seems to have died down a little in the last few months, but a truly terrifying one nevertheless. Apparently Maverick is back, now a Top Gun instructor with a young, female protege. Yes: Tom Cruise is playing Kelly McGillis.
Ridiculousness potential: Titanic, gargantuan, impossible to overstate. Anything with Mr Cruise anywhere near it has the potential to be as mad as a box of frogs (even Oprah Winfrey's sofa can be the scene of a meltdown). Plus it was set in a time when jet fighter battles against a superpower enemy actually seemed likely, so it will be laughably dated. Finally, the original, a hilariously over-the-top mix of gung-ho patriotic drama and thinly disguised homoerotic love story, is a treasured piece of kitsch history. This is a terrible idea. Please let it not be true.